The Emotional Paradox of Draft Week

mats zuccarello

It’s almost time. The 2018 NHL Draft will begin this Friday (the first round is Friday, the latter rounds will be Saturday) and given that we’ve already seen a big trade go down in Max Domi/Alex Galchenyuk, all the rumblings at the trade deadline about players the Rangers may/may not be trying to move (Mats Zuccarello being the most notable one). Judging from the general vibes emanating from the Rangers front office in the post-Letter landscape, well, we’re likely in for a wild ride. It’s safe to say that more or less anything could happen, especially if, as often happens, other teams do wild and crazy crap – the Rangers will surely either attempt to anticipate the maneuvers and machinations of rival GMs or at the very least react accordingly. We’re in for a wild ride.

All of this is quite exciting, at least in a vacuum. If Jeff Gorton is smart we’ll be walking away with a Quinn Hughes, Oliver Wahlstrom type, and, in typical Rangers fashion, a late-round steal (there’s always at least one, because Gordie Clark sure knows how to pick ’em). With all of the high-quality talent in this draft we’ll likely be seeing new faces much sooner than later, which means new moments of excitement, new stories to tell, new experiences to share with our friends and family. Sounds good, no?

Well, yes and no, actually. Because these changes don’t come in a vacuum – for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, more or less, which means that for all of the positive changes that will occur in the coming weeks like fancy new prospects, Ilya Kovalchuk potentially, etc, we’re likely to see some familiar faces departing. I know we already had that happen this last trade deadline, and we’ve become accustomed to it in the past with the Callahan trade, the Brassard/Zibanejad swap, and so on, but this feels different. Everyone is on the table, at least in theory, and the likeliest candidate to be moved is Zucc. I probably don’t need to elaborate any further – suffice to say that it’s going to hurt to see him go.

All of this brings up the emotional paradox of this present draft week, which I think is worth unpacking a little bit, in the hopes that maybe it helps us all come to terms with it (maybe I’m just doing this for myself, in which case thanks for listening, thanks for understanding). I’ve touched on this before with regards to the changes that a team undergoes throughout any kind of roster shift, but I think it’s worth conceptualizing this in moments.

Whether you’re looking at it in a purely individualistic sense (moments of personal excitement) or a more group-oriented way (shared experiences among those with whom you’re close), the vast majority of trades in our present-day NHL involve trading moments. In 99% of deals you’re either gaining futures for current assets or vice versa (contrast this with “hockey trades” that happen infrequently and usually become fairly lopsided fairly quickly with hindsight). This ends up meaning that you’re trading those moments, those big goals, exciting scoring chances that may or may not wind up in the back of the next, joyful celebrations, and playoff runs, for the possibility of more of them down the road, with the underlying implication that you’re gaining more than you’re losing.

This way of looking at things is a bit grim, the notion is that your present players are declining assets and that there’s a diminishing return on what they can give you, but the aging curve in hockey as in life is a bit grim. It can also be deeply frustrating if you happen to take the stance that those pieces you’ve traded aren’t depreciating assets, and that you could continue to have those moments at a potentially higher rate even than you could with whatever future Rangers we’ve just acquired. Especially given the way we attach ourselves to not only these moments of joy but the people who give them to us, it all becomes quite fraught.

That’s just one way of looking at things of course, and you can start from these same premises and wind up at a less morose destination. The big thing this sadness ignores of course is that the departure of current players and the severing of any potential happiness they might bring us doesn’t invalidate what they already have given us. Even if Zucc leaves the Rangers as he very well may, we’ll still always have those good times he gave us. The slick passes and unending determination to make a play will always be with us – we just won’t see more of it from him in the future, at least not in blue. This is still dissatisfying, but the pain dulls when we cease to privilege the future over the past. Equalizing the scales a bit brings something of an inner peace in that whatever loss we may feel is mitigated by an appreciation of the permanence of the past.

No one can take what Zucc so joyfully gave us, and there’s a special pleasure in knowing we saw his absolute best as a player. Coupled with the assurance (although I guess this all depends on how much faith you place in Jeff Gorton and his braintrust, because we could always end up in a dreadful Dylan McIlrath situation) that we’re going to soon see new moments of tension and release, new “moments” from players who we haven’t met yet but will have the privilege of getting to know, and the plane of time levels off a bit. The paradox still remains, and in some ways it still aches, but it becomes less lopsided and more balanced. At this point we’re left with the broad feeling that it’s going to be ok.

Maybe this is all just navel gazing, but I think it’s worthwhile on some level. Sports can bring about complicated emotions, and given the general predominance of a macho mindset that closes off most avenues of introspection, it’s not such a bad thing to try and understand how and why we’re feeling a certain way with the hopes that understanding yields some peace and perspective.

Draft week is sure to be a doozy, especially in our present Rangers moment, but we can make it through all of this together. We may not be ready to say goodbye, we may never be, but at least we can sow the seeds of a healthy path forward. To say that hockey has taught me a lot about understanding and coming to terms with the world would be an understatement – I hope it can bring you all the same understanding too. Happy Fathers’ Day too, to all those who are celebrating and especially to those remembering lost loved ones. We’re all in this together, on every level.

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60 thoughts on “The Emotional Paradox of Draft Week

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I guess some get emotionally attached more than others or have their “faves”. I was so pissed when hagelin was traded but only because the return felt like garbage but not in principle. he’s a role player. They can be replaced.

    But personally I’d pay for 36’s uber x to the airport.

    The team needs real change and clinging to the past will hold that back

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:56 am

      Agreed, that group had their chance, time to move on and I think the Rangers are doing just that.

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      There’s talk that multiple teams are interested in Kevin Hayes. Not sure what that means

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 9:43 am

    It’s always tough to see people go. but it’s tougher to see them go when you buy them out of a bad contract vs. trading them for something valuable. I think Zucc staying or going is 50/50, and we win either way. But this team is going to look pretty different in a few weeks. It is also a bit frustrating waiting for the next move…

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Never tough to see players go, it’s the sweater that matters. I don’t care that “we” have to win a cup for Hank, I want the team to have a best chance to win the cup soon.

      If you have to step back to step forward, so be it.

      For me, the biggest problem was that they waited so long to blow it up when it was obvious that the team was going nowhere early.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Out of the Namenstikov, Spooner and Zucc group one will be traded. I imagine the preference is to keep Zucc but it’s the market that will determine who goes and who stays.

    If we can get a 1st rounder for Zucc in the 15-low 20’s, or if we can package a 2nd or 3rd and Zucc to move into the top 15 of the 1st round then I say reluctantly/sadly “trade him” … but if the return value on Zucc alone is just a 2nd rounder then I say keep him and wait for the trade deadline where he can easily grab you a 1st and a prospect.

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:04 am

      I think 2 is possible. Esp if Hayes and vesey re-up.

      • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:44 pm

        That’s some bs with how explained that AV didn’t give Vesey a chance to play. He’s not very good and he’s JT Miller stupid on the ice during most of his shifts. He tries to play a more skilled game than physical game. This was probably why AV said that he needed to find his identity in this league. I thought that AV called it out perfectly at the time when he said that.

        • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:55 pm

          It’s possible that AV’s communication, or lack of, with the young players left Vesey in a constant state of confusion. It seems that AV may have felt that Vesey was forced on him with all of the hoopla and anticipation of Vesey coming out of Harvard.

          I’m not sure Vesey has played to his talent level yet. He seems, to me, to be an honest North American styled player that goes to the net and can be physical if he is free to do so.

          • Jun 17, 2018 at 1:01 pm

            AV’s lack of communication extended to the entire roster, not just the kids.

            • Jun 18, 2018 at 7:26 pm


    • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:08 am

      I know what you’re saying about getting high picks tanto, and normally I would agree.

      But if Zuc goes, then I want it to be for a player now. Trade him to Calgary (like he was reported to go by the trade deadline) for one of Calgary’s top D men prospects. Many think that Adam Fox is NHL ready, and righty.

      What I have heard is Zuc and #9 for the 5th pick. I would rather get an NHL ready player for Zuc, if possible. If not, then just keep him.

      • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:26 am

        Would the potential trade for the 5th pick be strictly contingent on a Certain player being available? Or a move only to move Zucc?

        • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:40 am

          Specific player. Rangers are not trading Zuc “just to trade him or a vet.”

          Tkachuk and Wahlstrom are definitely the wanted guys. Kot-whatever is on their radar as well. They would prefer to pick a top forward as opposed to D man. But there are only a couple outside of the top 3 picks in the draft.

          I bascially named the 3 after the 3rd pick. I’m assuming that Dahlin, Svetch, and Zadina are the first 3 picks, though the Habs might go with Kot-whatever since he’s a center. If Zadina is available at #4, then the Rangers could try to move up for him.

          • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:48 pm

            Interesting enough that I read was Brooks sounded confident that the Rangers don’t want to include Hayes in moving up. I was wondering if Zucc and Spooner could be apart of that trade scenario.

            • Jun 17, 2018 at 6:09 pm

              The only thing I agreed on Brooks’ article is that the cost to move in the draft is probably too high.

              • Jun 17, 2018 at 8:27 pm

                Just a mental NY Post column from Brooks. Let’s trade all our young solid assets like Hayes and Skiej and bring back Callahan/Hagelin/Kovulchuk. The man needs to retire or get a better ghost writer. I am sorry I wasted 2 minutes reading this crap.

              • Jun 18, 2018 at 6:14 am

                yep, brutal

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Yes, it’s time. No reason to extend him. Time to cash him in.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Obviously no one knows what’s going to happen this week.

    But what we do know is with oodles of cap space, the direction to go younger, and with a wealth of assets (picks, prospects, and players), I would say that this is the most important week in Ranger franchise history since the cap came in, during 2005.

    That they have the goods to transform their team into either a very good team long-term or turn it into the biggest missed opportunity that they have had since they passed on Tarasenko and drafted McIlrath.

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Biggest thing I’ve read is that Wahlstrom has switched commitments from Harvard to BC, meaning he’s likely to go pro when ready.

      • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:43 am

        Yes, this happened very recently and I think changed the Rangers #1 target from Tkachuk to Wahlstrom.

        Wally is the guy I have wanted all along and the “buzz” that the Rangers would move up for Tkachuk made me a little deflated. But maybe that was a smokescreen. Quinn did try to recruit Wally.

        He certainly will not be there at #9.

        • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:45 am

          Kotkaniemi flying up the charts will make Wahlstrom’s availability at 9 a possibility.

          • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:59 am

            My mock:

            Hughes (Wings trade with Habs)
            Zadina (I wish Boqvist for Sens)
            Kot-whatever (Habs trade with Wings)
            Wahlstrom (oh sh-t!!)
            Bouchard or Boqvist

            • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:09 pm

              If no trades, that’s my “worst case” scenario. But it appears that Bouchard would be a hell of a worst case.

              • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm

                I think Bouchard is older too, at 19, and may be NHL ready as soon as this coming year.

                Which may be attractive to the Rangers. They traded for a lot of 2016ish draftees with them being more NHL ready in mind. Howden and Lindgren and maybe even Hajek and Ryko will get long looks at camp with the hopes that maybe someone actually makes the big club.

              • Jun 17, 2018 at 1:10 pm

                Yeah, “worst case” in this draft still seems to be a really good player.

                My biggest concern is to overpay to move up in the draft and end up with a player that is only marginally better/lower risk than what we would get by staying out at 9.

            • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:42 pm

              Doesn’t make sense for Detroit to jump up.

              • Jun 17, 2018 at 6:11 pm

                For Hughes? Why not? Don’t discount the Habs doing something stupid and taking him.

                Or the Yutes or Sens.

                I’m saying if Hughes is the guy the Wings really want. He’s probably gone by the 6th pick.

              • Jun 17, 2018 at 8:37 pm

                Habs already have Mete to fill that role, no way they take Hughes at 3.

                Neither Ottawa or AZ need Hughes, so he’ll still be there at 6.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:46 am

    BTW, Happy Father’s Day to all and thoughts and prayers to all the fathers who are not with us. Like mine. Love you Dad!!

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Who’s the sh-thead that thumbs down this post?

      May God have mercy on your soul. Or not.

      • Jun 18, 2018 at 7:22 am

        It’s Mo again, that fool!!!!!!! Wait, maybe it’s Larry, or Curly???????

        • Jun 18, 2018 at 11:37 am

          Mo, did you grow yup without a father you prick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Give me another thumbs down schmuck…………

          • Jun 18, 2018 at 7:27 pm

            Just sc-mbags bro

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:14 am

    What Montreal, Arizona and Detroit do will clearly shape the draft.

    Rumor has it Barrett Hayton has really upped his stock to where he might go top 10.

    My projection is
    3-Kotkeniemi We have a trade to announce Zadina…might be us
    10-Dobson….We have a trade to announce….hopefully it’s the Rangers

    A Lucic contract dump for #10 would be a one time I would do a bad contract trade. Lucic can still be useful too and a Wahlstrom / Dobson or Bouchard such an injection of optimism and excitement for the future of our Rangers.

    It’s the 2 latter 1st round picks and 2 in 2 and 3 that has me nervous.

    I really want Dellandrea/ Bokk/ Kaut/ Noel/ Lundkvist/ Kotkov/ McBain/ Bahl/ Clark/ Hall/ McIssac and Olofsson, a combination of 4 hopefully all 6 with the picks remaining in 1st to 3rd round.

    Dellandrea is my biggest wish after Wahlstrom
    Kotkov another one I really want

    Stay away from Bovqist, Merkley, Thomas…these 3 I do not want

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Totally agree on your statement about Habs, AZ, and Wings.

      Wings could trade up if Habs are set on drafting Kot-whatever, with Habs selecting him at 6. Then who do Wings select? Hughes? Probably.

      I also mentioned that Hayton and Kravtsov may move up into the top 10 and if that happens and we get Wahstrom at 9, then I would be thrilled.

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Bokk another one moving up the charts with a bullet. Could go as early as the low teens.

      Boqvist is sliding; poor man’s PK Subban with a complete inability to defend. But limited views may keep him higher.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:33 am

    I think it is quite possible that Montreal trades #3 and Pacioretty to L.A. for Kopitar

    Arizona might be open to trade #5 but I think they’ll like Bovqist at 5 even though Tkachuk has name popularity in AZ

    Detroit likes Hughes

    Vancouver I think likes Bouchard

    Chicago is our threat to Wahlstrom but if Tkachuk is available, they’ll nab him

    just my speculation

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Wings need to go D man for us to have any chance at Wahlstrom or even Tkachuk.

      Hughes (Wings trade with Habs)
      Zadina (I can see Sens taking Tkachuk)
      Kot-whatever (Habs trade with Wings)
      Wahlstrom (crap!! lol)
      Bouchard or Boqvist (Rangers)

      • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

        You forgot about Zadina!

        • Jun 18, 2018 at 6:16 am

          I did at first, lol, and then realized it to repost. 🙂

      • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

        Yeah Chicago will pick Wahlstrom if Tkachuk isn’t available. If Tkachuk is available he will fit them immediately and select him

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:55 am

      If Montreal goes Kotkaniemi, Zadina goes 4, Rangers pitch to go for Tkachuk at 5. AZ will get somebody worth having if they dropped to 9.

      So many scenarios, not really worth sweating over if not getting paid to do so.

      • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:19 pm

        So you think Gorton values Tkachuk over Wahlstrom? Enough to make a trade to get him?

        • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:48 pm

          No idea what Gorton is thinking, just I thinkthat Tkachuk is league ready now compared to Wahlstrom

          • Jun 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm

            I think league ready is less of a concern now. It was a key factor in drafting Andersson last year, but times have changed…

          • Jun 17, 2018 at 1:43 pm


            I think that Tkachuk is the coach’s boy, and he may be the reason for landing him here, should that be the case!!!!!!!

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I should add two more players Morozov/ Clark and Sutter/ Regula and Barton also

    Depth Depth Depth, we need it.

    We need depth for every position.

    Islanders are going to get vastly better in this draft too
    Hayton/ Wilde/ Rodrigue and Hillander my guess for their picks.

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 12:56 pm

      I got zero time for Riley Sutter: saw him 3x in a week, did nothing for me in any of those games, season numbers match that. Didn’t even show enough to make me think he’s bottom 6. None of his generation of Sutters have done as much, either.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    We’re all doing mock drafts in our heads and here. They’re fun and it helps to get us to Friday but… minimum, the odds of the board staying static are slim — no trades by another team and nobody reaching for someone out of the consensus top 10. Someone will do something to alter the board.

    And that’s even before we get to our #9. Between young depth in the system at center and D, tons of cap space, a bevy of picks, experienced players we can afford to move (Nemestnikov, Spooner), not to mention Zucc and even Hayes (read Brooks’ column today), it’s hard to believe Gorton won’t find a way to come out of the first 10 picks without at least Wahlstrom, Tkacuck or even Zadina. And I’m betting on one other major surprise.

    We don’t need depth as much as we need elite talent. And Gorton has many cards to play.

    • Jun 17, 2018 at 10:42 pm

      if these finals showed anything (not that we didn’t know before) it is that all the “heart” and grit is useless with no elite level skill. the caps in fact had both.

      JG task at hand is to find that talent. he should be moving as many pieces necessary to get it.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    As much as I’d like certain players, we sit with the 9th pick, and the best won’t be there for us, so we have to go with the best player, not necessarily the best position player available.

    Folks we will get quality this draft, and if all goes well, we may get more than one quality player as well. This draft is loaded, we will be a much better team long term based on how we draft, and develop these kids. Again, at the risk of repeating myself, I can’t wait for this draft, to see the future Ranger players we will be getting!!!!!!!

    • Jun 18, 2018 at 6:28 am

      Yeah Walt, I think that moving up will cost a lot, we probably will stay at #9.

      I see a D man being available between Bouchard, Dobson, or Boqvist at 9. I don’t see one of the 3 forwards of Kot-whatever, Tkachuk, or Wahlstrom being available at 9.

      Again, those 3 meaningless wins out west…

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    We’re all doing mock drafts in our heads and here. It’s fun and it helps get us to Friday. But it’s an exercises in futility. First, the board is not going to remain static. At least one team will make a trade or reach for a player out of the consensus top 10 and mess up everyone’s boards.

    And that before we even get to the NYR at #9 where I’ll be very surprised if we stay or if that’s our only top 10 pick. With a bevy of extra picks, cap space, young system depth at center and D, and good experienced players as bait — Nemestnikov/Spooner and maybe even Zucc and Hayes (see Brooks’ column today), Gorton has many cards to play.

    We don;t need depth as much as elite talent. I’ll be very surprised if we just have the #9 as our top pick – even someone as highly thought of as Bouchard (or even Dobson). I think Gorton’s coming out of this with at least Tkachuck, Wahlstrom or even Zadina. And I’d put some chips on one other surprise as well – like a solid NHL ready player (like Richter’s Adam Fox).

    • Jun 18, 2018 at 6:23 am

      No question, there are so many scenarios that may happen or that we have no clue about that could change the board radically.

      All you need is a team to reach for a guy like Hayton or Veleno and it starts a domino effect.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    In the famous quote from AV…. “You only get some many kicks at the can here. ”

    It goes for all of them. Sad to see them go, yes…and somewhat still questioning the return. But we had to move on. The mindset needed to change. And it’s time to move out if you’re not on the chance bandwagon too. Players, coaches, whoever. I give JG a lot of credit by cutting bait and moving forward. Now we just hope it all works out.

    We’re gonna love these new guys just like we’re did Callahan, Dubi, Hank, etc. This one is all just very sudden and happening in one summer. No matter what happens though, this summer will be talked about for…well forever probably.

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    i love Zuk a little big man, if he goes i want a starter

  • Jun 17, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    • Jun 18, 2018 at 6:20 am

      The Draisaitl thing is all about the cap and how the Oilers will have a problem with their cap at some point.

      That being said, I don’t see how they trade him, he’s elite and one of the best players in the league. But with Chiarelli, you never know.

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